I’m definitely an Altra fanboy. For years I ran in Asics. Then after a mild knee irritation, switched to Hoka One One. Most of my running was on sidewalks, and I was a heel striker. Not a good combination.
The Altra Difference
I discovered Altra on a random runners blog. Decided to try them out, and at the same time, set my mind to begin running right — No more heel strikes!
My achilles and calf muscles screamed at me as I rapidly made the switch. My first Altra’s were the Torin 2.0, and I was in love. For years I crammed my feet into an unnatural toe box — Those days were instantly gone. Check out my Torin 2.0 compared to my Hoka One One Clifton… See the difference?
When Altra released the Torin 2.5 I made the jump. Then they released the 3.x models and, well… Call me shallow, but they just looked to weird and clunky. I dug the more stream-lined look of the Escalante, and decided to make the switch. The new shoes was nice, but the difference in cushion caught up with me a little.
Altra Torin 4 Plush vs Escalante 1.5
When the introduction of the Torin 4’s, Altra created two models: The Torin 4 and the Torin 4 Plush. I’m not really a super cushy shoe fan, but after reading a few reviews on the 4 Plush, I decided my on-pavement-sprints might appreciate this model. When they showed up I strapped them on and went for a short run.
Here’s the main things that stood out to me:
The Fit – Length and Width
The Torin 4 feels slightly longer (especially than the Torin 2.5). This change was a good change for me, as size 9 in the Torin 2.5 could have been a 1/4″ longer and fit me better. Either way, this change is so small it shouldn’t force anyone to a different size.
The width of the 4 Plush feels a tad more snug at the mid-foot area. But we’re talking just a little. Might just be that I’m used to the super soft mesh of the Escalante. Either way, it feels fine. Just noticeable.
The Fit – Heel Lock
Altra has been weak on the heel lock. Both the Torin’s and the Escalante’s had these thick, bulky heel areas. That was my biggest gripe when moving from Hoka One One to Altra. The good news? Problem gone with the Torin 4. BOOYAH!
As a side note, something I loved about the Torin Escalante was the toe room without the bulk. Past Torin’s just seemed bulky to me. The Torin 4 not only slims up the heel, but the front of the show looks less exaggerated.
The Support – Side to Side
The mesh top of the Escalante is comfy, no doubt. But IMHO you sacrifice major side to side support. Example, if you’re doing straight sprints, the Escalante is fine. But if you’re running, and need to make turns at high speeds, heck no. The Escalante will make you feel as if you’re about to slide off the sole.
The Torin 4 combines the mesh look and feel with the support required to make those turns at higher speeds. So much better.
The Support – Forefoot Real Estate
The Torin 4 gives a tad more foundational real estate in the forefoot area than the Escalante. I never felt robbed of space in the Escalante. But wearing them side by side, the Torin 4 offers a little more for my pinky toe to land on.
The Support – Cushioning
Massive difference in the cushioning between the Torin 4 Plush and the Escalante 1.5. But here’s the thing: The Torin doesn’t feel to cushy. Like, I’m really wondering now what the straight up Torin 4 feels like. To me, the plush model is perfect for pounding the streets.
The Escalante has so little between you and the ground, that if you’re running on uneven/rocky ground, it’s gonna work areas of your foot that you’re not used to working. And if you’re not in your 20’s or a consistent runner, the lack of cushion in the Escalante might encourage an injury.
Personally, I really dig the improvements to the Torin 4. They support my feet more than the Escalante, they secure my feet better for turns, and they just look a lot better than Torin’s of the past. At this time, I simply don’t have a good reason to use the Escalante’s any more. My mid-life feet enjoy a little more support.
If you think the plush would be too cushy — I really don’t think they are — Then I’d go for the straight up Torin 4 over the Escalante 1.5. I think Altra really has their mission dialed in with this newest model.